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Uber Eats deploys Robots for Tokyo food delivery

Uber Eats is launching a delivery service with Cartken's sidewalk robots in  Japan | TechCrunch

In a pioneering collaboration, Uber Eats is set to introduce autonomous sidewalk robots for food delivery in parts of Tokyo, marking Japan as the first international market to witness the innovative service. Uber announced the strategic partnership on Tuesday, teaming up with robotics company Cartken and Japanese industrial giant Mitsubishi Electric to deploy autonomous delivery robots from next month.

Cartken’s advanced Model C robots, equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision technologies, will navigate the bustling streets of Tokyo, delivering Uber Eats orders. Mitsubishi Electric will supervise the operations as part of the groundbreaking partnership.

Japan has a history of embracing robotic technology in various industries, particularly in hospitality. Many popular restaurant chains have integrated robot servers into their operations for several years. The introduction of autonomous sidewalk robots for food delivery is a logical extension of this technological trend.

The Model C robots are meticulously designed to navigate sidewalks autonomously, employing AI and computer vision to avoid obstacles, yield to pedestrians, and adhere to traffic signals. These robots, which travel at a speed similar to that of a walking adult, are equipped with cargo bins designed to maintain food at optimal temperatures during transport.

This initiative builds upon a previous partnership between Uber Eats and Cartken, which successfully launched autonomous robot delivery services in parts of Miami in 2022 and expanded the service to Fairfax, Virginia, in the subsequent year.

Shoji Tanaka, Senior General Manager of the Advanced Application Development Center at Mitsubishi Electric, emphasized the significance of robot delivery services in addressing Japan’s ongoing logistics challenges. The country faces an aging population and a shrinking workforce, leading to increased strain on its logistics infrastructure.

Tanaka stated, “Robot delivery services are considered an effective countermeasure to the logistics crisis that will become more serious in the future.” He highlighted Mitsubishi’s commitment to collaborating with Cartken to address these social issues and expressed hope that the initiative would catalyze the widespread adoption of robot delivery services in Japan.

Looking ahead, Tanaka outlined future plans to collaborate with buildings and factory infrastructure, leveraging Mitsubishi’s strengths to enable autonomous robots to deliver inside various facilities. This ambitious venture reflects the companies’ dedication to revolutionizing the future of food delivery through cutting-edge robotic technology.

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